Srinagar: A narrow dirt road crisscrossing through treacherous mountains was presenting a deserted look. A group of 16 Ababeel volunteers on board a mini-truck with a load of ply boards and tin sheets were trying hard to reach the last point before the dusk sets in.
A herd of horses traversing through the narrow mountain trek kindled a hope. Volunteers made a brief stopover to persuade the horsemen to carry the load to Honzar village, but to no avail. Horses and ponies had already been hired by officials to ferry essential material to cloudburst-affected village.
From the last point of the motorable road, one has to trek through treacherous passes for 5 hours to reach the affected village.
Seven people were killed and 19 others went missing when a massive cloudburst triggered flash floods in Honzar village on July 27. Eight days have passed and there is no trace of missing people.
Police, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Army, and volunteers of the Ababeel Trust have been working against all odds to locate survivors.
With several people becoming homeless, volunteers of Ababeel Trust have ferried ply boards and tin sheets so that people can construct makeshift sheds.
“Homeless people are staying with their relatives. One small house is accommodating four large families. Therefore we decided to donate ply boards and tin sheets so that people could construct makeshift houses,” said Syed Imran, who led a 16-member team.
Volunteers have been successful in shifting 75 ply boards and 120 tin sheets to the area. “We hired laborers. Plus our volunteers too chipped in. We carried the material on our shoulders,” he said.
Besides, clothes, ration, bedding, LPG stoves, and other essentials have been ferried to the village. Volunteers trekked five hours carrying the material on their shoulders so that affected people are provided some relief.
Seven houses and two Kothas have been swept away by the flash floods. Most of the people had vacated the houses when the cloudburst triggered flash floods. The people who were hit were at the banks of the Nallah when the tragedy struck.
“People are so desperate. They told us they wanted to have a last glimpse of the dead. They said whether you give us something to eat or not, please do something so that we can have the last glimpse of our dear ones,” said Imran.
Inclement weather, poor connectivity, and lack of heavy machinery are hampering the search and rescue operation to locate 19 missing persons. Last week, despite bad weather, three Indian Air Force helicopters were pressed into service to airlift SDRF and NDRF teams to Kishtwar. Simultaneously critically injured people were evacuated from Sondar to Kishtwar. Besides, 44 NRDF and SDRF personnel and four medical assistants were also airlifted to the village.